The strategic communications firm Enterprise Canada is pushing back against what it says are "irresponsible and reckless" statements made by Brendan Miller — a lawyer representing convoy protest organizers at the Emergencies Act inquiry — about one of the firm's employees.
On Monday, Miller suggested — citing no evidence — that Brian Fox, a partner at Enterprise, carried a Nazi flag in the thick of the protest crowd in Ottawa last winter so that photos would be taken and the protesters would be discredited.
Enterprise President Jason Lietaer told CBC News Network's Power & Politics that Fox is getting death threats due to Miller's "unhinged allegation."
"It's absolutely ridiculous," Lietaer told guest host David Cochrane. "It's having real impacts, I mean the threats ... it's got to stop."
WATCH | Enterprise Canada says convoy lawyer's allegations are 'highly defamatory'
In a letter addressed to Miller Tuesday, Enterprise's counsel Jeff Galway said Fox was not in Ottawa during the protests earlier this year, and that he recalled last visiting the city in 2019.
The letter also notes that Fox is a longstanding member of the Conservative Party. Miller's line of questioning at the inquiry attempted to tie Enterprise to the Liberal Party.
Galway then demands Miller cease and desist and correct the record.
"A formal libel notice is forthcoming," the letter reads.
On Tuesday, Miller doubled down, saying he isn't worried about any legal action Enterprise might take.
"Guess what? Truth is a full defence," Miller told reporters. Miller claimed that he has a witness who can identify Fox as the man with the Nazi flag.
But Lietaer said the firm has proof — in the form of receipts and eyewitnesses — that Fox was in Toronto during the protests.
"You can't fall for this kind of a hoax. It is patently false and we've got to fight back on this kind of stuff," Lieater said.
Miller temporarily kicked out of inquiry
On Monday, Commissioner Paul Rouleau chided Miller for suggesting that CSIS Director David Vigneault knew Fox was the man with the Nazi flag. Rouleau said the comment was "not a fair statement."
Following another tense exchange Tuesday morning, Rouleau had Miller ejected from the hearing room.
The Public Order Emergency Commission was hearing testimony Tuesday from Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino. As Rouleau was about to announce the usual mid-morning break, Miller interrupted to say he'd been speaking with Alexander Cohen, Mendicino's director of communications, who Miller said was in the hearing room.
"He has very relevant evidence with respect to the inquiry, as to the circumstances, as to the invocation of the Emergencies Act," Miller said.
Miller claimed Cohen has unheard evidence regarding "misinformation" about a text message exchange that was key "in building the narrative with respect to the protesters in Ottawa being extremists," including some having "Nazi symbolism."
Rouleau calls security
Miller then asked Rouleau to allow Cohen, who is not on the commission's list of witnesses, to testify after Mendicino.
"I'm not going to do this orally right now," Rouleau replied
"Well sir, we're given 15 minutes to cross-examine, to elicit relative material evidence, and we have relevant and material witnesses here. The Government of Canada has redacted without lawful authority all of these statements from these staffers, and has suppressed records," a visibly frustrated Miller argued.
Rouleau replied that the commission had a schedule to stick to, and asked Miller to come to an agreement with commission counsel during the break
"Sir, the schedule's not as important as getting at the truth," Miller shot back.
"There's no question we want to get at the truth, but you know what, it's a very complex issue and it's not all about what you want," Rouleau said.
After the break, Rouleau advised Miller that any application to add a witness must be done in writing. The two had a brief exchange before Rouleau called for another pause.
"I will return in five minutes, if security could deal with counsel," he said.
Miller then left the hearing room. Outside, he stopped to speak with reporters, where he again complained about some of the redacted documents presented as evidence before the commission.
"They have redacted these docs claiming they are irrelevant, or they are in fact subject to a cabinet confidence, despite the fact that the law is abundantly clear and undeniably clear that cabinet confidence does not apply to political staffers," he said.
"The Government of Canada has continuously, and every day, dropped hundreds of docs on the parties, and the parties are frustrated. It is not just myself. They have tried to turn this entire proceeding into an inquiry about the failures of [former Ottawa police] chief Sloly as opposed to actually about the invocation of the Emergencies Act."
Miller then walked away with convoy organizer Tamara Lich.
When hearings resumed, Rouleau told lawyer Keith Wilson, who also appeared as a witness before the commission, that counsel for the convoy organizers would have a chance to cross-examine Mendicino after the lunch break.
Miller was later allowed to return to the hearing room, and just before 4 p.m. began cross-examining Mendicino. Before he began, he offered Rouleau a brief apology.
"Just before I start, I apologize for talking over you earlier today," Miller said.